My own dad couldn't believe I shot 59 at the Nike Dominion Open
two weeks ago. When my brother Greg told him, Dad said, "You
heard wrong, son. If Notah shot 59, I'll kiss his butt." Greg
said, "Dad, you better pucker up."
I had planned an early dinner with some college friends that
night, but there was so much commotion after my round that they
had a long wait. I posed for pictures, signed autographs and
answered questions about my putting. As you may have heard, I'm
a switch-putter. After studying the physics of hitting a round
ball with a flat surface that has a degree or two of loft, I
tried an innovative technique: stroking right-to-left putts
righthanded and left-to-right putts lefthanded. Plenty of guys
have hit the ball better than I did during my record round, but
they shot 62 or 63 because they missed left-to-right putts they
might have made my way. If switch-putting ever catches on, then
I'll have two claims to fame.
My friends and I finally escaped to the Rock-ola Cafe in
Richmond, Va., for an early dinner. Then it was back to my host
family's house (no hotels for me, not with earnings of $831
going into the Dominion) for a shower and some TV. I tried to
unwind but couldn't. The round kept replaying in my head, mostly
my ace at the 3rd hole and the eight-footer for birdie I needed
at the last hole if I wanted to shoot 59. You know something
funny about that putt? As I got ready to hit it, I noticed that
my hands were shaking. They were shaking so much that I might
have hit the ball accidentally if I took a practice stroke. So I
got over the ball, pulled the putter back and told myself,
'Don't leave it short. Hit it hard and have no regrets.' Then I
knocked it right in the jaws.
Notah Begay III will play in next week's Nike Miami Valley Open.
COLOR PHOTO: SCOTT K. BROWN FIFTY-NINER Begay stayed focused until the final putt. [Notah Begay III]